A PEEP THROUGH THE SCREEN

Or outlines of the plan by which a union of church and state policy is proposed to be effected in the state of New York, and, ultimately, throughout the United States.

FIRST. The establishment of a State Superintendent of Common Schools, who must profess strong and sincere attachment to the purest principles of Jeffersonian democracy, but in heart be a repudiator of the sentiments of that eminent statesman, that “an absolute and lasting severance of church and state,” together with “equal and exact justice to ail men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political,” are indispensible to the perpetuity of a republican and free government. Such a State Superintendent, subject to the influence of dominant sectarian prelates, and clothed with absolute and despotic power over the 10,375 school districts of the state, and from whose imperial decisions there is no appeal.

Second. The executive appointment of 67 County Superintendents, subject to the orders of the state dignitary, and under salary of sufficient amount to secure the success of the plan, as a matter of paramount importance. Let the dear people have as little as possible to do either with electing or rejecting these county officers, that they may be precisely what the State Superintendent would have them to be.

Third. To prevent the people from prying into the “fair business transactions” of this establishment, let a town superintendent be provided for every town and ward in the state, with sufficient pecuniary inducement to make him the pliant tool and surrounding echo of the state and county superintandents.

Fourth. Let the trustees of all the common schools of the state be bound by law and penalty, to confine themselves in all their official duties to the sovereign mandates of the army of superintendents, placed over them by the legislature, and vested with discretionary power to veto the official contracts made by the trustees in behalf of their respective districts, &c.

Fifth. Let $59,600 be appropriated to the establishment of a Normal School, placed under the immediate supervision and government of the state superintendent, and the regents of the university, for the purpose of drilling all such as shall be allowed to teach schools in the state, until they shall duly understand what part they are to act in the work of sectarianizing every school in the state, and how to manufacture consciences for the young and rising generations, to be available at the ballot boxes at a future day.

Sixth. Let money be appropriated by the state, for the establishment of district school libraries, and let the state Superintendent recommend all the districts to purchase the books for the library from the firm of “Harpers,” of the city of New York, of which firm the present pious Native American mayor of that city is the principal, and let all books bought through the indiscretion of the trustees from any other establishment, be subject to rejection from the libraries by the State Superintendent, on complaint of any county, town, or ward superintendent, or on that of any other person of unquestionable popular piety.

Seventh. Let a District School Journal be published at the expense of the state; let it be subject to the will and direction of the State Superintendent; let it contain and bear to every district his imperial mandates with speed and dispatch, and let the balance of its pages be filled with able and eloquent reports, essays, puffings, &c., for the purpose of manufacturing public opinion in favor of our noble Prussian school system; let the clergy also, so many of them as are really interested in the pious and benevolent work of proscribing their neighbors, and establishing a uniform kind of religion of their own peculiar sort, be allowed to write largely for the Journal, and, inasmuch as there are some badly disposed sects of Old School Baptists, Quakers, Jews, Catholics, &c., who may have conscientious scruples as to the propriety of reading said Journal, therefore, let a law be made and severe penalties annexed, to compel every district in the state to receive, preserve, and transmit to their posterity, the said Journal with its contents.

Eighth. As a convenient pretext for proscribing and persecuting those who believe that pure religion is a revelation from God by his Holy Spirit, and not a mere branch of education, and who are therefore opposed to the profanation of the bible to give currency to unholy and wicked intrigue and religious speculation, let a law be enacted, either by the legislature or by the mob, that all public schools shall have prayers said or read in them by the licensed and duly qualified proficients of the Normal Schools; that the bible shall also be read and expounded by them to the scholars, and that the singing of religious songs and hymns shall take the place of grammar and arithmetic in the schools. By this means, there is a fair prospect that our land, like the streets of Philadelphia, may be soon soaked in human blood, and the pious hearts of the projectors of this plan made to exult in the success of their enterprise.

Ninth. Let large and expensive conventions of the legal officers of this standing army be held, and let them avail themselves of the services of initiated guests of illustrious breeding, from other states and nations, together with members of the legislature, governors, sheriffs, lawyers, counselors, &c., all mingle in these assemblies, and let the consolidated wisdom of these conventions be employed in grave deliberations, upon the best anti most effectual means of securing the great end and design of this whole system.

Tenth. Let the religious journals of our own country, which are to be favored by the success of these operations, speak out in the highest accents of approval, and tell how very impious illiberal, impolitic and degrading it is to be found opposing such a system of pure and disinterested benevolence. And let the literary and the political presses of state and nation be suborned, to unite in carrying out these measures; that all who may wish for office, or power, of profit or honor, may be fairly warned and advised of what will secure their elevation.

Last. (But not of minor importance.) Let all who dissent from this project of piety and benevolence, be branded with infamy, and let all, “both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, receive a mark in their right hand or in their forehead; that no man may buy or sell, save he that hath the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

Let the foregoing rules be attended to, and the day is not far distant when all that shall remain to us of that civil and religious liberty, for which our fathers perished in the field of carnage, will consist in a mere name, and the bitter recollection of what we have been. May heaven avert the storm that gathers over our heads.

New Vernon, N.Y.,
July 1, 1844

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 453 – 456